Sunday, 22 October 2023, Saudi Arabia ~ A raft of upgrades covering the 2023-2024 Riyadh season and 2024 Saudi Cup have been announced by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, with prize money for the world’s richest weekend of racing boosted to $37.35m across the Riyadh racing extravaganza.
Next year’s Saudi Cup, to be held Friday, 23 and Saturday, 24 February 2024 at King Abdulaziz Racecourse, will include a new prize fund worth an additional $2m compared to the 2023 renewal. The increase reflects the upgrades of the 2,100m Neom Turf Cup and the 1351 Turf Sprint to global Group 2 while the 2100m Al Mneefah Cup for Purebred Arabians will also run as a Group 1 for the first time.
The Neom Turf Cup, which was won in February in impressive style by the John & Thady Gosden-trained Mostahdaf, who has gone on to become a dual Group 1 winner this season, and the 1351 Turf Sprint, won by Japanese runner, Bathrat Leon, have both seen their prize funds boosted from $1.5m to $2m.
On the Friday card, the Al Mneefah Handicap saw an increase from $1m to $1.5m, while the 1800m Jockey Club Local Handicap on the dirt, receives a prize money boost of $500,000 to $1.5m
The Saudi International Handicap, a race for Thoroughbreds from Part II and Part III racing jurisdictions moves from the Friday to the Saturday of Saudi Cup, forms part of a nine-race card.
Alongside the upgrades to the Saudi Cup meeting, further improvements to the domestic Riyadh season have also been announced, including the introduction to the international pattern of the Crown Prince Cup (December 16, 2023) and the King Faisal Cup (January 13, 2024) which will be run as Listed races.
In another key alteration, the Listed Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup (January 27, 2024) has been reduced in distance to the same 1800m as The Saudi Cup from 2000m, to better reflect its status as a key qualifier for the $20m contest.
Additional Arabian races added
In addition, the Riyadh season, which is set to begin on October 26 and run until March 16, 2024, will see the total number of races increase to 700, with an additional 66 Purebred Arabian races added to the calendar. Each race meeting will be extended to 12 races, with 10 for Thoroughbreds and two for Purebred Arabians.
Five Purebred Arabian contests have been awarded international Listed class for the first time this season, with the JCSA Cup (25 November) and one new, yet to be named, Listed race (18 November), while in 2024, the Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Sword (13 January), The Sprint Championship (8 March) and the King Abdulaziz Racecourse Championship (9 March) will all be run as Listed events.
There will also be three other new Cup races for Thoroughbreds added to the Riyadh calendar, with the Imam Mohammed Bin Saud Cup, worth $240,000, a notable addition to the Kings’ Cups Festival on 13 January 2024, with the other new Cup races being the $80,000 Prince Saad Bin Abdulrahman Bin Faisal Cup (19 January 2024) and the $80,000 Prince Fahad Bin Jalooey Cup (10 February).
Prize money across the Riyadh season, not including The Saudi Cup meeting, will increase by $1.5m to $21.9m.
~end Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia